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The End of Satisfaction

Drama and Repentance in the Age of Shakespeare

Heather Hirschfeld

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: Cornell University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. ix-xi

A book on satisfaction opens itself up to many puns and allusions, often starting with the Rolling Stones. I try to avoid them here. Instead, I enjoy the opportunity to turn from a vocabulary of repentance, compensation, and atonement to the related, but distinct, language of gratitude and thanks...

Note on Texts

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pp. xii-xiv

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Introduction: Where’s Satisfaction?

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pp. 1-15

“Would I were satisfied!” laments Shakespeare’s Othello in the tortured crescendo of act 3, scene 3. “You would be satisfied,” confirms Iago, whose poisonous suggestions about Desdemona’s infidelity have prompted Othello’s plaint. “And may, but, how, how satisfied, my lord? Would you, the supervisor...

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1. “Adew, to al Popish satisfactions”: Reforming Repentance in Early Modern England

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pp. 16-38

“Adew, to al Popish satisfactions,” proclaimed the Protestant clergyman Thomas Wilson in his monumental Christian Dictionarie (1612).1 The exclamation is representative of the robust efforts by early modern Protestants to “bend the language of satisfaction . . . to a new purpose.”2 The “language of...

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2. The Satisfactions of Hell: Doctor Faustus and the Descensus Tradition

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pp. 39-64

Could Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus be a version of the medieval harrowing of hell play, that cycle pageant which displayed Christ’s descent to the underworld where he challenged Satan for the souls of the righteous dead? Of course, Marlowe’s drama, which centers obsessively on the status of the...

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3. Setting Things Right: The Satisfactions of Revenge

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pp. 65-93

“Unto God, satisfaction is due for every sinne . . . by taking vengeance of our selves,” explains the Briefe Fourme of Confession (1576).1 Echoing a long tradition of confessional summa that build from 2 Corinthians 7:11, the dictum names a special reciprocity, even entanglement, between revenge and repentance...

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4. As Good as a Feast?: Playing (with) Enough on the Elizabethan Stage

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pp. 94-118

Given the conceptual centrality in the early modern period of satis, enough, in organizing various systems of obligation and recompense, it should not surprise us to see the term emerge as a character in the mid- Tudor interlude, a genre intimately concerned with “the spiritual implications of wealth and...

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5. “Wooing, wedding, and repenting”: The Satisfactions of Marriage in Othello and Love’s Pilgrimage

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pp. 119-146

Satisfaction, as we have charted over the course of the preceding chapters, is a qualitative as well as quantitative principle that organizes various categories of exchange: of transgression and redemption, of violation and vendetta, of debt and repayment. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, these categories...

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Postscript: Where’s the Stage at the End of Satisfaction?

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pp. 147-152

This book began with a discussion of a distinct Reformation doctrinal change; it then traced the significance of this change as it was intuited by and fashioned for the early modern stage. It has thus been concerned largely with dramatic content, with the ways in which the theater represented to its...


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pp. 153-204


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pp. 205-232


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pp. 233-239

E-ISBN-13: 9780801470639
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801452741

Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 877868510
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The End of Satisfaction

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Subject Headings

  • Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • English drama -- Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600 -- History and criticism.
  • Repentance in literature.
  • Desire in literature.
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